Originally created 08/25/02

Home front

Hidden away

They are, after all, just boxes with shelves and doors.

Yet cabinets typically account for 30 percent to 40 percent of the cost of both new and remodeled kitchens. The process involved in choosing the right cabinets contributes to at least 75 percent of the angst.

No one ever seems completely happy with the cabinets he or she has chosen.

"They always want the opposite of what they have," said Joan McCloskey, an editor at Better Homes & Gardens whose job it is to analyze the tastes of her magazine's readers.

"If they have white cabinets, they say it makes the kitchen look too stark and cold," Ms. McCloskey said. "If the cabinets are dark, it makes them feel hemmed in, so they go to white."

Consider the clear glass door, a trend in 1990s cabinets that Ms. McCloskey said seems to have fallen by the wayside.

"Having clear glass doors means that the cabinets have to be neat," Ms. McCloskey said. People "didn't like looking at the mess, so they've now switched to etched, translucent glass instead."

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